The Shield of Achilles

by W.H. Auden  Frans Floris, Vulcan Fashions the Shield of Achilles (1560) She looked over his shoulder For vines and olive trees, Marble well-governed cities And ships upon untamed seas, But there on the shining metal His hands had put instead An artificial wilderness And a sky like lead. A plain without a feature, bare and brown, No blade of grass, no sign of neighborhood, Nothing to eat and nowhere to sit down, Yet, congregated on its blankness, stood An unintelligible multitude, A million eyes, a million boots in line, Without expression, waiting for a sign. Out of the air a voice without a face Proved by statistics that some cause was just In tones as dry and level as the place: No one was cheered and nothing was discussed; Column by column in a cloud of dust They marched away enduring a belief Whose logic brought them, somewhere else, to grief. She looked over his shoulder For r


by John Updike for Annette our San Francisco neighborhood] O when in San Francisco do As natives do; they sit and stare Amd smile and stare again. The view Is visible from anywhere. Here hills are white with houses whence, Across a multitude of sills, The owners, lucky residents, See other houses, other hills. The meanest San Franciscan knows, No matter what his past has been, There are a thousand patios Whose view he is included in. The Golden Gate, the cable cars, Twin Peaks, the Spreckles habitat. The local ocean, sun and stars-- When fog falls, one admires that. Here homes are stacked in such a way That every picture window has An unmarred prospect of the Bay And, in its center, Alcatraz. 1958

Song of a Self

Lew Welch If this is what life is, Could one of your Gods do it better? I make what I see, and I make what I hear with Eye and my animal eye-- with ear and my Auditing Ear... full full of my gift I am never left out and afraid And this what the song is (all of you waking and working and going to bed) I sing what you'd know if you took time to hear, I know what you'd learn if you had cause to care Envy my wildness if you will.... full full of my gift I am often left out and afraid And this all my art is (that stays at the distance the stage is) You turn from my songs into another's arms, As I, who have taken you all to my heart, Would sometimes be taken to heart.... full full of my gift I am only left out and afraid ______________________________________________ Commentary by the Red Monk Except for things like the Yaws, there is no suffering unless we invent someone to suffer the suffering

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

by GM Hopkins As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme; As tumbled over rim in roundy wells Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; Selves - goes itself; myself it speak and spells, Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came. Í say móre: the just man justices; Kéeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces; Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is - Chríst - for Christ play in ten thousand places, Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his To the Father through the features of men's faces.

Waiting for the Barbarians

Originally posted 3/27/2010 When are you at war, and with whom? What happens when you take sides? What happens if you don't take a side?* Waiting for the Barbarians by C.P. Cavafy The barbarians are to arrive today. Why such inaction in the Senate? Why do the Senators sit and pass no laws? Because the barbarians are to arrive today. What laws can the Senators pass any more? When the barbarians come they will make the laws. Why did our emperor wake up so early, and sits at the greatest gate of the city, on the throne, solemn, wearing the crown? Because the barbarians are to arrive today. And the emperor waits to receive their chief. Indeed he has prepared to give him a scroll. Therein he inscribed many titles and names of honor. Why have our two consuls and the praetors come out today in their red, embroidered togas; why do they wear amethyst-studded bracelets, and rings with brilliant, glittering emeralds; why are they carrying costly canes today, w

You Were Brave in that Holy War

by Hafiz for Jihad You have done well In the contest of madness. You were brave in that holy war. You have all the honorable wounds Of one who has tried to find love Where the Beautiful Bird Does not drink. May I speak to you Like we are close And locked away together? Once I found a stray kitten And I used to soak my fingers In warm milk; It came to think I was five mothers On one hand. Wayfarer, Why not rest your tired body? Lean back and close your eyes. Come morning I will kneel by your side and feed you. I will so gently Spread open your mouth And let you taste something of my Sacred mind and life. Surely There is something wrong With your ideas of God O, surely there is something wrong With your ideas of God If you think Our Beloved would not be so Tender.

Unfold your own myth

by Jelaluddin Rumi (trans. Coleman Barks) Who gets up early to discover the moment light begins? Who finds us here circling, bewildered, like atoms? Who comes to a spring thirsty and sees the moon reflected in it? Who, like Jacob, blind with grief and age, smells the shirt of his son and can see again? Who lets a bucket down and brings up a flowing prophet? Or like Moses goes for fire and finds what burns inside the sunrise? Jesus slips into a house to escape enemies, and opens a door to the other world. Solomon cuts open a fish, and there's a gold ring. Omar storms in to kill the prophet and leaves with blessings. Chase a deer and end up everywhere! An oyster opens his mouth to swallow one drop. Now there's a pearl. A vagrant wanders empty ruins Suddenly he's wealthy. But don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth, without complicated explanation, so everyone will u